Tony Lynes 1929-2014

Tony sadly died after being hit by a car in Herne Hill on 12 October 2014. This site is maintained by his family.

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First Tony Lynes Annual Memorial Lecture

The first Annual Memorial Lecture in honour of Tony was held on 7th October 2015 at William Booth College, Denmark Hill.

The speaker was Paul Flynn MP, on the topic of ‘Abolishing sin’.

With thanks to Mayor Dora Dixon-Fyle for introducing the event and Councillor Peter John for chairing.

Music was provided by the Recorder group led by Sue Klein and the Welcome Singers, conducted by Sue Heath-Downey.

The introduction, lecture and short Q&A can be heard here:

A gallery of images can be viewed here:

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Event to celebrate the life of Tony Lynes, 23rd October 2014

An event celebrating his life was held on Thursday 23rd October, at the Conway Hall. A recording of the event can be found below:

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Southwark pensioners explore local history

Twenty-six people, including Southwark’s distinguished historian Stephen Humphrey and local pensioner activists Tony and Sally Lynes, attended a meeting held on 4th September 2013 to discuss the formation of a Local History group at Southwark Pensioners Centre in south-east London. The idea was welcomed by all those present – so we’re going ahead with fortnightly open meetings at the Centre on Tuesday afternoons, starting on Tuesday 15th October at 2 p.m.

At that meeting, we’ll share information about our own or our families’ connections with Southwark, whether recent or in the distant past, the changes we have seen, and the things we would like to know more about. We will also begin to plan our programme for the year.

At the second meeting, on Tuesday 29th October, Stephen Humphrey will talk about his research into the history of the Elephant and Castle area and his recently published book on the subject. In subsequent meetings he will advise on ways in which, individually or in small groups, we can explore our history, through local archives, maps, prints, published sources, personal reminiscences and photographs.

Future meetings will include talks by Stephen and others, as well as reports by members of the group on their own explorations.

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Below you will find Tony Lynes’s comments, views and research findings on the following subjects:

Music: public library charges illegal?  (11.9.13)

Single-tier pension – but not for today’s pensioners?  (24.2.13)

Child benefit – a better way of sharing the cost.  (4.1.11)

Adult education.  (20.6.10)

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Music: public library charges illegal?

Public library charges for lending printed music

This article presents the results, up to September 2013, of ongoing research by Tony Lynes on behalf of Making Music.  It summarises the legislation relating to local authorities’ duty to provide a music lending service and their power to charge borrowers for this service; shows how this power is used (or exceeded) by 31 local authorities for which information was obtained; compares the widely diverging charges made for a typical loan of vocal scores; and concludes that at least a substantial minority of library authorities are making illegal charges and that there is a strong case for amending the law.

Library authorities’ duty to provide a music lending service

The duties of public library authorities and their powers to impose charges are to be found in the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 and the Library Charges (England and Wales) Regulations 1991.  Section 7(1) of the Act requires every library authority to “provide a comprehensive and efficient library service for all persons desiring to make use thereof”.  While the authority may make facilities for borrowing “books and other materials” available to anybody, it is obliged to do so only for persons living, working or studying full-time within the local area (described below as “local borrowers”).  Precisely who or what is a local borrower may, however, be open to question if the materials are to be loaned not to an individual but to a choir or other group, some of whose members are local people and others not.

Section 7(2) of the Act requires a library authority, in fulfilling its duty under section 7(1), to

“have regard to the desirability . . . of securing, by the keeping of adequate stocks, by arrangements with other library authorities, and by any other appropriate means, that facilities are available for the borrowing of, or reference to, books and other printed matter, and pictures, gramophone records, films and other materials, sufficient in number, range and quality to meet the general requirements and any special requirements both of adults and children.”

The term “books and other printed matter” undoubtedly includes vocal and instrumental scores.  A library authority, therefore, must at least “have regard to the desirability” of lending scores in adequate numbers to local borrowers, whether from its own stocks or by means of inter-library loans

The power to impose charges

Section 8 of the Act, headed “Restriction on charges for library facilities”, gives the Secretary of State power to make regulations authorising charges for facilities specified in the regulations, but not for the loan of “written material” to local borrowers.  “Written material”, for this purpose, includes “any book, journal, pamphlet or other similar article”.  Whether a single sheet of music is a “pamphlet or other similar article” may be debatable, but a bound vocal or orchestral score is certainly a book and therefore covered by this definition.

While loan charges to local borrowers for bound volumes and probably also for single sheet scores are unlawful, section 8(3) concludes:

“ . . . this subsection shall not prevent any regulations under this section from authorising the making of charges in respect of the use of any facility for the reservation of written materials or in respect of borrowed materials which are returned late or in a damaged condition.”

Accordingly, regulation 3(2)(b) of the 1991 Library Charges (England and Wales) Regulations provides that a library authority may make a charge

“ . . . for reserving for any person library material or library apparatus, whether that material or apparatus is for the time being held by the relevant authority or needs to be obtained from elsewhere and whether for the purpose of lending the material or apparatus to that person or making it available for his use on library premises, and for notifying that person that that material or apparatus has become available or is not available for borrowing or use by him.”

Since a loan to a local borrower can legally be subject to a reservation charge but not to a loan charge, it is important that there should be a clear distinction between the two.  If the material is both required and available immediately, the need for reservation presumably does not arise and no reservation charge should be made.  Most requests for the loan of sets of vocal or instrumental scores, however, are made in advance – and, even if they are not, the library will probably need time to explore the possibility of an inter-library loan.  There will, therefore, be a period during which the scores can be said to be “reserved”, possibly justifying a reservation charge.  Such a charge can reasonably take into account the number of items (e.g., as shown below, Portsmouth charges a “request fee” of £15 per 40 vocal scores, and Southwark charges 20p per item with a minimum charge of £2); but a charge based on the duration of the loan (e.g., Kent charges £2 or £4 per month for a loan of vocal scores, depending on the length of the work, and Herts charges £2 per month for 10 vocal scores or a packaged set) is clearly a loan charge, not a reservation charge, and, if applied to a local borrower, is therefore illegal.

Regulation 4 leaves the amount of any permitted charge to be fixed at the discretion of the authority.  It also allows the authority, instead of making a charge for each use of the library facilities, to “charge an annual subscription or a deposit in respect of all or some of such facilities”.  The legality of the practice adopted by some authorities of requiring payment of both a loan charge and an annual subscription is doubtful – but, more importantly, neither type of charge is permissible if the borrower is a local resident, worker or student.

Display of charges

Whatever system of charges is adopted, whether for music or other materials, regulation 5 (“Display of charges”) should be noted:

“A relevant authority which makes a charge in accordance with regulation 3 shall display in a conspicuous place within each library premises occupied by the relevant authority a notice which is easily readable specifying the library facilities made available by the authority for which it makes a charge and, in the case of each such facility, the amount of the charge or the basis on which the charge will be calculated.”

What happens in practice: charges for borrowing vocal score sets

The table below summarises information about charges made by 31 local authorities for loans of sets of vocal scores (ILL = inter-library loan).  The selection of these authorities was largely haphazard, depending on access to email addresses and websites.  Some of the information may be incomplete or out of date, especially where obtained from websites.

Library authority Charging criteria Charges
Blackburn with Darwen Number of scores; duration of loan;  ILL charge Up to 10 scores £6; 11-15 £10; 16 or more £15, for 12 weeks.  ILL reservation & admin. fees £2.50.
Brighton & Hove Duration of loan £25 per month ((£15 for groups local to the City).
Cheshire East Number of scores 1-20 £15; 21-40 £27; 41-60 £40; each additional £1.20.
City of London Number of scores £5 per 50 scores.
Cornwall Number of scores; duration of loan £1 per score for 6 months.
Cumbria Number of scores; duration of loan; ILL charge £1.50 per score (ILLs £2 per score) for 6 months.
Derbyshire Annual subscription (size of group)OR pay-as-you-go – number of scores;duration of loan Up to 20 members £20; 21-50 £50; 51-100 £100; 101+ £200; professionals £500.£10 per 12 scores for 13 weeks

 

Essex Annual subscription; number of scores; duration of loan Subscription £15 (£40 for group outside Essex).  £1.50 per score (£10 for set of sheets) for 12 weeks.
Hampshire Annual subscription; number of scores Subscription £10.  £7.50 per 20 scores (for maximum 9 months).
Herts. Number of scores; duration of loan; ILL charge £2 per month for 10 scores or packaged set, plus £7 minimum charge for ILL.
Kent Length of work; duration of loan; ILL charge 5 minutes or more £4 per month; less than 5 minutes £2 per month (out of Kent groups £10/£5).  ILL charge £4.
Lancashire Number of scores £10 per 40 scores.
Lincolnshire Annual subscription + ILL chargeOR reservation fee + ILL charge Subscription £25.  ILL charge £4.Reservation 50p per item (25p on-line).  ILL charge £4.
Liverpool Annual subscription (+ delivery charge) Subscription £28 (for group outside Liverpool £58).
Manchester Number of scores; duration of loan Large scores 25p per score for 28 days;  small scores 12p per score for 28 days (non-Manchester groups 50p/25p).
Middlesbrough Number of scores; delivery charge £10 per 20 scores; delivery £5.
Nottingham Annual subscription based on size of group + ILL charge Up to 30 members £25; 31-60 £50; 61-90 £75; 91+ £100; professionals £300.  ILL charge £5.
Oldham Annual subscription; charge per set Subscription £18; charge per set £5.
Portsmouth Number of scores £15 per 40 scores.
Richmond upon Thames Number of scores, + charge for items not in stock £15 for 25 scores; charge for items not in stock.
Rochdale ILL charge No charge for sets in stock; £8 per set for ILL request + actual ILL charge if excessive.
Somerset Number of scores £4 per 5 scores.
Southampton Number of scores £15 per 40 scores.
Southwark Number of scores; reservation charge 20p per score (minimum £2).
Suffolk Annual subscription; duration of loan; ILL charge Subscription £1.75 per member, minimum £10.50 (non-Suffolk group £3.50 per member, minimum £35).  Charge per set £4.75 (sets in folders £1.55) per 12 weeks.  ILL charge £10 (£20 if supplied by more than 1 library).
Surrey Annual subscription; number of scores; duration of loan; reservation and ILL fees Subscription, Surrey & W Sussex groups £25, others £32.  Loans, per month, per set (20): to Surrey & W Sussex groups £5 (£4 per packaged vocal set), to others £7 (£6 per packaged set).  Reservation £3 per set.  ILL: £5 per application to other libraries.
Trafford Number of scores 1-40 scores £25; 41-80 £30; 81-120 £35; over 120 £40.
Wandsworth Number of scores Up to 40 scores £15.20; over 40 £21.50 (more than one charge if more than 1 ILL request involved).
Warwickshire Number of scores £1 per score; £5 per part-song set (around 15-40 copies).
Westminster No charge No charge
Yorkshire Number of scores; administration charge; postage Yorkshire group: vocal scores £1.60 each; small scores £1 each; part songs £1.50 per wallet (c. 10-12 copies).  Admin. charge £5.Non-Yorkshire group: vocal scores £2.50 each; small £1.50; part songs £5 per wallet.  Admin. charge £10.

Two obvious facts are shown by the table.  First, nearly every authority makes a charge of some kind (including annual subscription), for loans, reservations or both, the exceptions being Westminster which makes no charge and Rochdale  which does not charge for items held in stock.  Secondly, with the exception of Portsmouth and Southampton, no two of these authorities have the same system of charges.  Liverpool and Nottingham have an annual subscription and make no additional charge for loans (apart from delivery and inter-library loan charges).  Derbyshire and Lincolnshire have an annual subscription but offer borrowers the option of paying for each loan.  Essex, Hampshire, Oldham, Suffolk and Surrey have an annual subscription but also charge for each loan.

Most of the authorities (21 out of 31) make charges which take into account the number of scores borrowed.  Eleven take into account the duration of the loan, and 8 of these take into account both the number of scores and duration.  Many authorities make smaller charges for sets of part songs; Kent is unusual in defining these by length of performance (less than 5 minutes).

An indication of the variation in levels of charges can be obtained by comparing the charges made by different authorities for similar loans.  For instance, the charges made by a number of authorities for lending 40 vocal scores of a major choral work for three months to a local borrower, excluding authorities with an annual subscription and excluding any additional charge for ILLs, are as follows:

Blackburn with Darwen                             £15.00

Brighton & Hove                                             45.00

Cheshire East                                                   27.00

City of London                                                    5.00

Cornwall                                                             40.00

Cumbria                                                              60.00

Herts.                                                                   24.00

Kent                                                                       12.00

Lancashire                                                            10.00

Manchester                                                           30.00

Middlesbrough                                                      25.00

Portsmouth                                                              15.00

Richmond upon Thames                                       30.00

Rochdale                                                                      8.00 or free

Somerset                                                                     32.00

Southampton                                                              15.00

Southwark                                                                     8.00

Trafford                                                                        25.00

Wandsworth                                                                 15.20

Warwickshire                                                               40.00

Westminster                                                                    0.00

Yorkshire                                                                        69.00

It seems unlikely that most of the differences can be justified on any rational grounds; and, as explained above, the eleven authorities whose charges to local borrowers take into account the duration of the loan appear to be acting unlawfully.

Should the law be amended?

The present situation is clearly unsatisfactory.  At least a substantial minority of library authorities are making loan charges to local borrowers, contrary to the provisions of the 1964 Act.  It is arguable that, in spite of this, the present system is working and therefore does not need to be fixed, but there are two objections to that view.

The first objection is that the charges made are, at least in the majority of cases, not unreasonable and therefore ought not to be unlawful.  It is one thing to require a library to lend single copies of books free of charge, but quite another to apply the same rule to a loan of 50 or more vocal scores of a major choral work.

The second objection is that, for an authority which feels obliged to comply with the law, the ban on loan charges is a serious disincentive to the provision of an adequate music lending service and therefore operates against the interests of borrowers. There is, therefore, a strong case for amending the law to allow authorities to charge for lending sets of scores.

If this were done, it is likely that the variations in charges between different authorities would be considerably reduced.  Complete uniformity would be unattainable and unnecessary, but it would be possible to devise a standard system of charges to which authorities could be encouraged to conform.

Tony Lynes

September 2013

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Single-tier pension – but not for today’s pensioners?

At present, people under pension age pay national insurance contributions which entitle them to two kinds of state pension – flat-rate and earnings-related. Those whose employers provide an earnings-related pension scheme can be “contracted out” of the state earnings-related pension, their NI contributions and those of their employer being reduced accordingly. Under the Government’s latest proposals, the state will no longer be involved in providing earnings-related pensions, so there will be no need for contracting out: from 2017 (at the earliest), everybody under pension age will pay the full rate of NI contributions, resulting in a big increase in contribution income for the NI Fund.

At the same time, the flat-rate element of the state pension will be replaced by a “single-tier pension” at a rate high enough, for most people, to remove the need for a means-tested top-up – the pension credit. At present, the basic state pension is only £107.45 a week, while the minimum income provided by pension credit is £142.70. As a result, according to the recent Government white paper on the single-tier pension, nearly half (about 40 per cent) of all pensioners are eligible for the means-tested pension credit – but around a third of them do not claim, missing out on an average of £34 a week. The proposed level of the single-tier pension – £144 a week at today’s prices – would be slightly above the means-tested minimum, and it would be paid without a means test.

All this, however, applies only to those reaching pension age in 2017 or later. Today’s pensioners are completely excluded. They will be left with their £107.45 basic pension, with a means-tested addition for those who claim it – and the scandal of the non-claimers will continue for decades to come.

This doesn’t need to happen. As the White Paper says, “In a pay as you go state system, funding liabilities are passed from generation to generation: the National Insurance contributions of the working population provide for today’s state pensions for their parents’ and grandparents’ generations.” The logical way to spend the increased contribution income resulting from the ending of contracting out, therefore, would be to extend entitlement to the single-tier pension to existing pensioners. The answers to a number of parliamentary questions tabled by Harriet Harman, MP, show how the costs would work out.

The estimated cost of raising the state pensions of existing pensioners to the single-tier rate of £144 a week would be around £10bn a year. But a significant part of this total – estimated at between £1.94bn and £2.80bn for the year 2009-10 – is the amount of means-tested pension credit which pensioners are already entitled to but do not claim, the cost of which should clearly fall on the Exchequer, not on the National Insurance Fund. Deducting this from the £10bn total reduces the net cost to between £7.2bn and £8.1bn, of which about £6bn will be covered by the additional NI contributions resulting from the abolition of contracting out.

The probable net cost to the NI Fund of paying the single-tier pension to those already over pension age when it starts in 2017 would, therefore, be between £1bn and £2bn a year, reducing year by year as a new generation of workers reaches pension age. While this is not an insignificant sum, as the price to be paid for providing a minimum pension without a means test it is decidedly modest. And it doesn’t take into account the administrative savings from no longer having to means-test a diminishing group of elderly pensioners.

To argue for this does not imply that £144 a week is a reasonable minimum income for a single pensioner. Pensioners’ organisations will continue to campaign for a substantially higher target – but that campaign would unite the pensioners of today and tomorrow, making it much more difficult for governments to ignore.

Tony Lynes
February 2013

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Child benefit – a better way of sharing the cost

Figures given in reply to a Parliamentary Question on 15 November offer a much simpler and much fairer alternative to the Government’s widely criticised plan to withdraw child benefit from higher rate taxpayers. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, presenting the Comprehensive Spending Review on 20 October, had said: “I simply cannot ask those earning just £15,000 or £30,000 a year to go on paying the child benefit of those earning £50,000 or £100,000 a year.” But the solution proposed by the Government is plainly unfair. Abolishing child benefit for the higher paid automatically places the whole burden of the cut on families with children. Childless taxpayers with similar incomes will not lose a penny.
Paul Flynn, the Labour MP for Newport West, therefore asked the Chancellor what increase in the higher rate of tax would be needed to cover the cost of child benefit payable to higher rate taxpayers. The answer was that the cost in 2010-11 is £2.0 billion and the higher tax rate would have to rise by “around 2 per cent” to cover this cost. All those earning £44,000 or more would pay an extra 2p on every pound of additional income, but the burden would fall equally on those with and without children. And none of it would fall on those earning £15,000 or £30,000.
Moreover, the much criticised unfairness of the Government’s proposals to families with two medium-income earners would be avoided, as would the enormous administrative complications involved in discriminating between families just above and just below the higher-rate threshold.
It’s not too late for the Government to see sense, adopt the sane solution and retain the universality of child benefit.

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Adult education

In the House of Commons on 3rd June, Andrew Percy, Tory MP for Brigg & Goole, asked John Hayes (Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation & Skills): “Does he agree that the success and value of adult education is measured not only in terms of qualifications and certificates? Will he assure us that, as this Government move forward, the past cuts in adult education, for courses that do not lead to qualifications, will if possible be reversed, and that value will be placed on all layers of community adult education?”

John Hayes replied: “I welcome my hon. Friend to the House.  … he, like me, understands that learning has a value for its own sake.  I do not want to be unkind to my predecessors, because that would be slightly vulgar; nevertheless, it has to be said that the dull utilitarianism that permeated the previous regime’s thinking on this subject has now, thankfully, come to an end.”

We’ll remember those words if and when adult education is hit by the coming expenditure cuts.

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